Page 4240 - Week 11 - Thursday, 17 Sept 2009

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MR COE (Ginninderra) (5.25): I rise to speak on the Dangerous Goods (Road Transport) Bill 2009. I am pleased that we have the opportunity to debate this legislation today and to bring the ACT’s dangerous goods laws into line with those of our interstate colleagues.

This bill is a result of the approach taken to a national transport reform undertaken by the former coalition federal government. The commonwealth has passed the Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) Repeal Act 2009, which will repeal the commonwealth Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) Act 1995. This will allow the ACT to update the laws of the territory to comply with the national scheme developed since the former commonwealth act was passed. It will ensure that the ACT catches up with New South Wales, which has already adopted the model legislation.

The Road Transport Reform (Dangerous Goods) Act 1995 had been replaced by the National Transport Commission (Model Legislation—Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road or Rail) Regulations 2007. These regulations were promulgated by the former Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Mark Vaile, on 26 September 2007.

This is the latest iteration and a new approach taken from 2003 by the commonwealth in relation to national transport reform. The approach includes the development of model legislation by the National Transport Commission and the adoption of this in each jurisdiction. National legislation helps road transport companies to operate efficiently and effectively, with greater certainty as to their responsibilities and with the ability to compete without worrying about the barrier of state borders.

In the past the Productivity Commission has estimated the cost to Australia’s GDP of conflicting transport regulations as $2.4 billion. There is still some way to go, and in 2006, despite having pursued heavy vehicle transport reform for a decade, only one-third of the so-called oversize or overmass provisions had been implemented in a nationally consistent way. It is important that we vigorously continue to pursue nationally consistent road transport reform. Our freight task is expected to grow substantially and efficient interstate transport is increasingly important to the national economy.

The bill we debate today, the Dangerous Goods (Road Transport) Bill 2009, does a number of things. In particular, it creates a set of offences in relation to the transport of dangerous goods. It also sets up the framework for the issue of directions, notices, warrants and the power of agencies and authorised people under the act.

The ACT does not have a significant amount of dangerous goods on the road due to the absence of industries that largely depend on the transport of these goods. However, due to the possibility of an incident that may involve death or serious injury, harm to the environment or damage to property or public assets, there is a need for strict regulations and severe penalties for the safety and protection of life and property.

Dangerous goods are divided into a number of classifications. They are class 1 explosives, class 2 gases, class 3 flammable liquids, class 4 flammable substances,

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